Pike O’Blisco

Published 14 March 2021

The cloud envelops the top of Pike O’Blisco.

It’s September 2020 and after a year full of lockdowns, cancelled holidays and just general chaos, I unexpectedly found myself in the Lake District for a week. Day one was spent near Borrowdale, the second in the wonderful Newlands. The third was a splendid day around Grasmoor, and day four was a soggy visit to Tarn Crags. Now though, I was in Langdale, ready to explore some fells I’d long meant to visit. And I started with Pike O’Blisco.

The rain had battered Langdale overnight. I woke to find my little tent was now surrounded by a swamp. Large muddy puddles were everywhere. It was so bad that when I returned to it several hours later, I ended up moving it to another spot on the campsite.

Given the amount of rain that had fallen, I was surprised that the stone steps I was now walking up, were bone dry. Had all the rain in Langdale fallen only on one small red tent on the National Trust campsite? I did wonder.

Looking down Langdale – definitely one of the best views in the Lakes.

Pike O’Blisco is one of Langdale’s lesser known fells. Not as tall and dominating as Bowfell. Not as exciting as Crinkle Crags. Not as flashy as the Langdale Pikes. Not as gentle or enticing as Lingmoor. But that’s no reason not to give it a visit. And I was rather pleased with what I found there. Especially those bone dry steps.

First I got to walk besides Redacre Gill, a rather substantial stream that seemed to be doing a very good job of absorbing the recent rainfall. Assuming it hadn’t just fallen on my tent. The gill also had some rather delightful waterfalls. And who doesn’t love a good waterfall?

Water gushing down Redacre Gill, next to the path up Pike O’Blisco

Then, when the steepest bit of the climb up had been done, there were the rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. So many that I even needed to do a bit of scrambling.

Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of scrambling. I don’t have the grace nor poise for it. Nor the feet. My size 10½ hiking boots always struggle to stay put in whatever footholds I can find.

Time for a quick scramble to get up to the top of Pike O’Blisco

But the scrambles on Pike O’Blisco, well they were gentle. And dare I say it, fun. I found myself enjoying the climb, rather than being in my usual state of panicking that my foot would slip and I’d fall. I am not entirely sure I would have been so gushing about them had I been going downhill. But I wasn’t, so that was all right. Going up was grand.

The final scramble led to the very top of the hill, and the cairn that marked the summit.

At the summit!

In the late 1950s when Alfred Wainwright had visited Pike O’Blisco, there was a grand old cairn here. A tall, narrow cone like thing. I know this because he drew a picture of it for inclusion in his Pictorial Guide to the Southern Fells.

The cairn present 60 years later is far less elegant, looking as if it had slipped and spread out over the hillside. It definitely wasn’t as good. Although the fine column Wainwright had drawn hadn’t lasted that long after his visit. When Wainwright returned a year later, he noted the cairn had been beheaded by persons unknown. Presumably restoring it hadn’t been a priority for anyone since.

A fine view!

And that leaves me to tell you about the view. Oh, I couldn’t. There was cloud everywhere. I could see nothing. The weather forecast had promised it would lift, but but it hadn’t. So I imagined it. And I’ve been to Langdale enough times to know what it looks like up high. Besides, it’s all part of the game. Some you win, some you lose. At least I was here and at least it wasn’t raining. And given that, did anything else really matter?

Next time: Cold Pike

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